Several thousand people gathered in central Bratislava on Friday evening to mark the second anniversary of the brutal murder of Jan Kuciak. The shooting of the journalist was a watershed for Slovakia – one that is now playing out ahead of elections on February 29.
It was a sombre crowd, estimated at around 8,000, that filled Namestie Slobody (Freedom Square) in the Slovak capital to honour Kuciak and his fiance, Martina Kusnirova, who were gunned down in their home on a cold February night.
The assassination stunned Slovakia, and alerted a slumbering liberal cohort to the dangers stalking the country.
“We want to commemorate what Jan and Martina meant for Slovak society,” says Eva Lavrikova from Za Slusne Slovensko (For A Decent Slovakia), the civil society movement organising the gathering. “It was not a tragedy for them only, but for all of us. It showed that things were much worse than we ever thought.”
This solemnity pervaded the quiet here. No flags waved in the winds gusting around the square; few placards were raised. Monks led prayers before Kuciak’s parents and Kusnirova’s mother appeared on stage, all visibly shaking.